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28 April, 2016 - 10:29 By Kate Sweeney

Finnish company likes what it sees with videophone for the elderly

seespeak, cambridge, vieo phone, elderly

A Cambridge technology start-up is selling its products to overseas markets just eight weeks after making the decision to export.

SeeSpeak, which has developed a single function tablet to make Skype calls easier for older people not familiar with technology, has landed a deal to supply its product to Finland.

CEO and founder Damian Helme said: “The decision to export really came by accident. We were building up our business within the UK and then we had a call out of the blue from a company in Finland that specialises in monitoring equipment and was broadening out into supplying products linked to the health and safety of elderly people within institutions.”

That company had come across SeeSpeak and liked what it saw, which complemented its current product ranges. Helme added: “They were bringing together different products to help with monitoring of the elderly and as part of this were looking for a video phone. “Although there are a few similar products, what makes us unique is that we look at the problem in a different way, concentrating on how to make video calls as easy as a phone call, rather than set up something that’s built into the TV”

SeeSpeak also appealed to the company because it is based on a one-off cost rather than a subscription, which is the case with its main competitor.  As well as a new country to sell to it also meant a new way of selling the product.

“Until now we have concentrated on the end user market, people buying it for elderly relatives directly from our website,” says Helme. “They were aiming for the institutional market.”

Having no experience in exporting, Helme was put in touch with UK Trade & Investment international trade adviser David Earp by another company at IdeasSpace in Cambridge where SeeSpeak is based. UKTI introduced SeeSpeak to its Passport to Export Programme, which provides new and inexperienced exporters with training, planning and ongoing support.

Despite this exporting success SeeSpeak is, for the time being, concentrating on building up its UK side of the business but – now that he knows the ins and outs of exporting  – Helme is very happy to explore any other opportunities as they arise.

“We will go with whatever opportunities come up,” he says, which could be sooner rather than later. “If it goes well in Finland the company we are working with also sells products to Scandinavia and Russia, so we could soon be exporting there.”

As well as new markets SeeSpeak is seeing new applications for the product presenting themselves. “One person bought it for their child who has cerebral palsy and others are using it not because they can’t use technology but because they want something easier to use when they are at home,” Helme said.

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